lastnightsreading:

Zadie Smith at the Schomburg Center, 3/19/14
Buy the drawing here.

lastnightsreading:

Zadie Smith at the Schomburg Center, 3/19/14

Buy the drawing here.

"Happiness is not an absolute value. It is a state of comparison."

— Zadie Smith, NW

"

It was a difficult book to write. It was difficult fighting my own tendency towards smoothness. Smoothness can be a great advantage in a novel, a great asset to keep things bobbing along at a certain pace; but it can also be a way of being glib, of passing over what should be more closely examined. I wanted to create a different quality of attention in my reader.

Practically speaking, too, it was just a long process. Seven years is a long time and I had other obligations. It’s different writing with children and without, different writing at my age as compared to when I was 22. But despite the difficulties I found it to be by far the most rewarding writing experience of my life so far.

"

— Zadie Smith on writing NW.

(Source: nbcc.americanvanguardpress.com)

We’d like to wish Zadie Smith good luck at the National Book Critics Circle Awards tonight! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for NW. 
The NBCC blog interviewed Ms. Smith about her latest novel:
Ben Janse: Do you think authors owe it to their readers to be socially conscious in their novels and attempt to address the social issues of the day?
Zadie Smith: No. I don’t think authors owe their readers anything, or vice versa - it’s not that kind of relationship.  That said, I personally enjoy writing that attends to the present. I can see that the historical past comes with its own gravitas and weight, and that many writers rely on that as ballast. And to many readers, too, the present feels weightless, ‘trendy,’ un-literary.  I find I like that problem. I like taking on the challenge of a reader’s contempt for his own times.
BJ: What was the hardest thing to write in NW?
ZS: All of it. It was a difficult book to write. It was difficult fighting my own tendency towards smoothness. Smoothness can be a great advantage in a novel, a great asset to keep things bobbing along at a certain pace; but it can also be a way of being glib, of passing over what should be more closely examined. I wanted to create a different quality of attention in my reader.  
Practically speaking, too, it was just a long process. Seven years is a long time and I had other obligations. It’s different writing with children and without, different writing at my age as compared to when I was 22. But despite the difficulties I found it to be by far the most rewarding writing experience of my life so far.

We’d like to wish Zadie Smith good luck at the National Book Critics Circle Awards tonight! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for NW. 

The NBCC blog interviewed Ms. Smith about her latest novel:

Ben Janse: Do you think authors owe it to their readers to be socially conscious in their novels and attempt to address the social issues of the day?

Zadie Smith: No. I don’t think authors owe their readers anything, or vice versa - it’s not that kind of relationship.  That said, I personally enjoy writing that attends to the present. I can see that the historical past comes with its own gravitas and weight, and that many writers rely on that as ballast. And to many readers, too, the present feels weightless, ‘trendy,’ un-literary.  I find I like that problem. I like taking on the challenge of a reader’s contempt for his own times.

BJ: What was the hardest thing to write in NW?

ZS: All of it. It was a difficult book to write. It was difficult fighting my own tendency towards smoothness. Smoothness can be a great advantage in a novel, a great asset to keep things bobbing along at a certain pace; but it can also be a way of being glib, of passing over what should be more closely examined. I wanted to create a different quality of attention in my reader.  

Practically speaking, too, it was just a long process. Seven years is a long time and I had other obligations. It’s different writing with children and without, different writing at my age as compared to when I was 22. But despite the difficulties I found it to be by far the most rewarding writing experience of my life so far.

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2012 Awards this morning. A big congratulations to all of the authors! (Especially Zadie Smith and Steve Coll.)

FICTION

  • Laurent Binet, HHhH. tr. by Sam Taylor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Ecco
  • Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son. Random House
  • Lydia Millet, Magnificence. W. W. Norton
  • Zadie Smith, NW. The Penguin Press

NONFICTION

  • Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Random House
  • Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. The Penguin Press
  • Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. A Liveright Book: W. W. Norton
  • David Quammen, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. W.W. Norton
  • Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. Scribner

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

  • Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us. Atria Books
  • Maureen N. McLane, My Poets. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies. Blue Rider Press
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, In the House of the Interpreter. Pantheon

BIOGRAPHY

  • Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Alfred A. Knopf
  • Lisa Cohen, All We Know: Three Lives. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Michael Gorra, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece. A Liveright Book: W. W. Norton
  • Lisa Jarnot, Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography. University of California Press
  • Tom Reiss, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. Crown Publishers

CRITICISM

  • Paul Elie, Reinventing Bach. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Daniel Mendelsohn, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture. New York Review Books
  • Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey. Wave Books
  • Marina Warner, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights. Belknap Press: Harvard University Press
  • Kevin Young, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness. Graywolf Press

POETRY

  • David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations. University of Chicago Press
  • Lucia Perillo, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths. Copper Canyon Press
  • Allan Peterson, Fragile Acts. McSweeney’s Books
  • D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys. Graywolf Press
  • A. E. Stallings, Olives. Triquarterly: Northwestern University Press

Penguin Press - Best Articles of 2012

We’re highlighting our favorite articles and stories from the past twelve months or so. Enjoy.

Here’s Zadie Smith’s tour of Kilburn, using her novel NW. You can also watch her tour of Willesden Lane, Camden Lock, and 37 Ridley Ave.

And of course you can read a bit of NW itself, here.  

"I spent a lot of this past year reading classics instead of contemporary literature, but the one new book from 2012 that stood out for me was Zadie Smith’s ‘NW.’ Even though many critics were skeptical, I felt the book wonderfully explored what it means to be authentic in a world of professional, cosmopolitan conformity. The characters wrestle with fundamental questions of love, death and fairness against the backdrop of London neighborhoods, seedy and bourgeois alike. And the form of the book—these meaty sections side by side with dozens of one-paragraph chapters—was edgy enough to keep me engaged without being too avant-garde."

— Chris Hughes, editor in chief and publisher of The New Republic, on the book he most enjoyed reading in 2012.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

penguinspeakersbureau:

PSB’s Hanna Rosin along with Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois and Brow Beat editor David Haglund explore London based on Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW. Check it out!

An excellent discussion. Best if you’ve already read NW

We’re thrilled to share The New York Times Top 10 Books of 2012 includes two of our books: NW by Zadie Smith and The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. A big congratulations to both writers!

You can explore our interactive guide to NW's London here, and read excerpts from The Patriarch here.

(Photos by Kristina DiMatteo and Rex Bonomel)

mcnallyjackson:

Family portraits, 2012. 

So that’s why Michael Grunwald was sneaking around our offices while we were finalizing the NW cover.